Latest satellite imagery shows that a fourth reactor at Pakistans Khushab nuclear facility,which is dedicated to production of plutonium for weapons,is halfway through.
A new paper on the status of the facility,which is located 200 km south of Islamabad and is not under IAEA scrutiny,by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) claims the fourth reactor will significantly increase Pakistans ability to make plutonium.
Based on the available imagery,ISIS estimates that the construction of the fourth reactor is proceeding about 30 per cent faster than construction on reactor three and that major external work could be complete within 15 months, the report says.
The paper says the plutonium seems to be linked to Pakistans goal of building a large number of smaller nuclear weapons. This comes even as recent developments in Pakistan have caused concern in India as they point to addition of tactical nuclear weapons by Islamabad. The successful launch of the Nasr short range multi-tube ballistic missile is a special concern as it seems to be designed to target troop formations as a tactical nuclear weapon.
Recent studies have revealed that Pakistan has the worlds fastest growing nuclear stockpile that could rise close to 200 nuclear warheads in a decade if the current rate of expansion continues. Pakistans current stockpile is estimated at around 100,slighty higher than Indias estimated stockpile of between 80 and 100 warheads.